Kort Amerikaans revisited. Textual process and variation in a classic 20th century Dutch novel and film

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperScientific

Abstract

Dutch writer Jan Wolkers (1925-2007), whose recently published biography Het litteken van de dood caused considerable uproar in the Netherlands, remains famous as a highly authentic voice in post-war Dutch Literature. His fame is partially based on his touching and sexually explicit bestseller Turks Fruit (1969). This novel was turned into a successful movie only four years later, visited by over 3,3 million people in the Netherlands. Inspired by this success, in 1979 plans were made for a movie-adaption of Wolkers’ debut novel Kort Amerikaans (1962).

Confronted with the dialogues in the draft scenario for the movie, Wolkers decided to radically rewrite his first novel. The rewritten version, which was only partly used for the movie, to a high extent shows a restyled representation of the autobiographical main character: Wolkers ‘reinvented’ his younger self to make it more corresponding to his by that time established public ‘posture’: that of a highly authentic, rebellious writer of the sixties. Next to that, in the new version of the novel some of the ‘round’ characters were minimized and much of the original staging of the novel, set within the context of the final year of the Second World War, was adapted.

In Wolkers’ biography, as well as in the broader context of Dutch literary studies, the thorough rewriting of the novel remains largely unnoticed. In my paper I will address the benefits of studying the versions of Kort Amerikaans in their complex interrelation, treating the different manifestations of the ‘work’ as a fluid text with an ongoing textual variation.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2018

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